Earlier studies from this laboratory provided evidence for restricted cytokine expression in the T cell population in RA tissues. Specifically, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) gene expression levels were low. The selective chemoattractant and activation effects of chemokines on leucocytes identify them as potentially ideal candidates in mediating selective inflammatory processes in RA. Accordingly, we undertook studies to examine constitutive chemokine gene expression in RA tissues. RANTES, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and MIP-1 beta gene expression was examined in both the T and non-T cell populations in RA peripheral blood (PB), synovial fluid (SF) and synovial tissues (ST). Our results identified elevated levels of both RANTES and MIP-1 beta gene expression in circulating RA PB and SF T cells. By contrast, MCP-1 expression was virtually absent in RA PB, yet elevated MCP-1 mRNA levels were detected primarily in the non-T cell populations of the SF and ST samples. Histological examination of affected rheumatoid joints revealed extensive RANTES and MIP-1 beta expression in sites of lymphocyte infiltration and cell proliferation, namely the synovial lining and sublining layers. Fractionation or RA ST patient samples revealed that RANTES expression was restricted to the T cells, whereas MIP-1 beta expression was detected in both T and non-T fractions. These data suggest that MCP-1, MIP-1 beta and RANTES may have a central role in the trafficking of reactive molecules involved in immunoregulation and in the inflammatory processes in RA.